CIVIC ANNOUNCEMENTS: THE ROLE OF DRUMS, CRIERS AND BELLS IN THE COLONIES
by Barbara Lambert and M. Sue Ladr
In a world without telephone, radio or television, public communication relied on sound signals, word-of-mouth, bells, newspapers, and letters. During the earliest decades of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, civic announcements were made with the use of musical instruments such as the drum, horn or conch shell. Concerning the drum, the following observation was made in 1636 about a traveller on his way to a religious meeting in Cambridge:
. . . after some small travell hee came to a large plaine, no sooner was hee entred thereon, but hearing the sound of a Drum he was directed toward it by a broade beaten way, following this rode he demands of the next man he met what the signall of the Drum ment, the reply was made they had as yet no Bell to call men to meeting; and therefore made use of a Drum. . . .1
Eventually the towns were able to import bells from England and during the second half of the seventeenth century the bellringer gradually replaced the town drummer in civic affairs. The drummer, however, remained prominent in military activities.
The voice of the town crier was heard throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He was sometimes directed like the drummer and later the bellringer to announce town meetings and adjournments but his main duties concerned the commercial affairs of the town.
This appendix was compiled from the Reports of the Boston Record Commissioners (BRC), the Records of the Town of Cambridge (formerly Newtowne), Massachusetts 1630–1703 (RCN), The New-England Courant (NEC), The Boston News-Letter (BNL) and The Boston Gazette (BG) up to and including the year 1776.
In towns and villages where there were no bells the drum was used as a means of notification, calling people together for public worship or town meetings and marking the time of day. In Boston, the town drummer was an appointed official throughout the first half of the seventeenth century. In addition to his civic duties the drummer served the militia. Later, drummers were enlisted and paid according to military regulations.
In rural towns and villages during the eighteenth century, it was the drummer who sounded the alarm and called up volunteers by his “drum beat to arms” in the event of an Indian attack or military threat. In the cities the governor issued “beating orders” to raise troops for an extended military expedition. The custom extended to the crying of other government proclamations by beat of drum in the streets, where the use of the drum not only drew the attention of a listener, but also lent an air of seriousness or importance to the occasion.
BRC, 7th Report [Dorchester]; p. 118.
August 5, 1633
An agreement made by the whole consent and vote of the Plantation made Mooneday 8th of October, 1633.
Inprimus it is ordered that for the generall good and well ordering of the affayres of the Plantation their shall be every Mooneday before the Court by eight of the Clocke in the morning, and prsently upon the beating of the drum, a generall meeting of the inhabitants of the Plantation art the meeteing house, there to settle (and sett downe) such orders as may tend to the generall good as aforesayd; and every man to be bound thereby without gaynesaying or resistance.
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 8.
February 27, 1635
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 36.
December 10, 1638
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 67.
February 28, 1641
At a meeting this day . . . It’s Ordered that the Constables shall pay unto Arthur Perry 41. 10s. for his service in drumming the last yeare ending this present day.
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 75.
August 25, 1643
At a general Townsmeeting upon lawfull warning. . . . It’s agreed that Arthur Perry, Drummer, shall have £9 for all his service for the Towne with his Drum this last yeare and halfe ending on the 1st of the 7th mo. last past, to be payd by Anthony Stodder, late Constable, out of the Townes-rate.
BRC, 2nd Report, pp. 75–76.
November 27, 1643
Att a generall Townes meeting upon lawfull warning. . . . It’s agreed betweene the select men on the Towne’s behalfe, and Hugh Williams and George Clifford: that Nathaniel Newgate, Apprentize to the said Hugh Williams and George Clifford afore-said, shall doe all Com̄on service in drum̄ing for the Towne on trayning dayes and watches, The sayd George for these three yeares next ensueing, and the said Nathaniel for these foure yeares next ensueing, in Consideration whereof the Towne will be at the charges of their learning skill in drum̄ing.
It’s further agreed with Arthur Perry that he shall give his Best diligence in teaching the sayd George Clifford and Nathaniel Newgate in all the skill and use of the drum needfull to all common service in military Affayres, in consideration whereof he shall have foure pounds payd him within six mo: next ensuing.
BRC, 2nd Report, pp. 79–80.
June 29, 1644
At a meeting this day . . . The Constables of this Towne are appointed to pay foure pounds ten shillings unto Arthur Perry, part of seaven pounds due to him for his service in Druming untill the first day of the first month last past, and for teaching the use of the drumme according to agreement made with him on 27 of 9, 1643.
BRC, 2nd Report, pp. 81–82.
December 2, 1644
At a meeting this day . . . Its Ordered that the Constables shall pay unto Arthur Perry 50s. for his halfe yeares service in drum̄ing, ending on the first of 7th mo. last past, and 40s. for his attendance on setting of the watches this last Summer.
BRC, 2nd Report, 85–86.
September 29, 1645
At a meeting this day . . . The Constables are to pay unto Arthur Perry five pounds for his last yeares service in drumming, ending on the last of sixt month last past, and thirty shillings more for drum heads, &c.
BNL, September 12, 1723
Canso, August 1, 1723:
This Night about 1 of the Clock, Capt. Robinson who lives within Pistol shot of us, hearing Two Guns fir’d in the Harbour, and the Drum beat To Arms, call’d to me, and told me the Harbour was alarm’d; upon which we dress’d and went over the Creek to his House, got our selves into a Body, and answer’d the firing in the Harbour, by the Discharge of two Muskets, which gave the alarm to this side of the Island. We Clear’d and Charg’d our Guns, and sent a Man to the Garrison to inquire the Reason of the Alarm.
BG, July 13, 1724
Ipswich, July 17
On Monday last came in here Silvanus Lakeman of this Town, who brought an Account of some of our Fishery as well as others being surprized, taken and kill’d by the Indian Enemy on the 10th Instant. His Honour the Lieut. Governour having had an Account thereof was pleas’d to give his Orders to beat up for Voluntiers, which was done, and upon the beat of the Drum between Forty & Fifty Voluntiers appeared and Enlisted to go in quest of the Indian Enemy.
NEC, September 14, 1724
It is now time that I bring forth the Words of the Law, and enquire to what Use these Moneys are appropriated thereby. See an Act of this Province made in the 5th Year of K. William and Q. Mary.
All Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures arising by Vertue of this Act, or any Breach thereof (not otherwise disposed of therein) shall be for the Use of the Regiment, Company, or Troop respectively; That is to say, for procuring and repairing Drums, Trumpets, Colours, Banners, Halberts, paying of Drummers and Trumpeters, or other Charge of the said Company.
BNL, September 5, 1728
We are inform’d, That on Monday the 2d Instant, A Spanish Pirate, a Schooner of 6 or 8 Guns, and 80 Men, Anchor’d at an Island call’d Gardner’s Island, which lies near East Hampton & Block-Island; and at Night the Men went on shore and broke open the House of Mr. Gardner the Proprietor of the said Island, rifled the House, and carried away the Household Stuff, as Beds, Pewter, Brass, Iron, &c. they also kill’d abundance of Provisions; some belonging to the Island got away to a Neighbouring Place, so that the account of the Pirates came to New-London on Tuesday Night; and a Post was immediately sent to Rhode-Island which got there the next Morning. And we hear from thence, That upon receiving the Intelligence, the Drums beat up for Voluntiers to go in quest of the said Spanish Pirate, and by 6 of the Clock in the afternoon two Sloops with 70 men on board each of them, under the Command of Capt. Jonathan Clark and Capt. Robert Elliot set sail prepared to engage the said Pirate.
BNL, May 25, 1732
London, March 29, 1732:
Mr. Stephen Denston, of Dover, being in the House of a Watchmaker at Dover, gave to the Value of Eleven Pounds English Money for French Two-penny Pieces, which when he arrived at Boulogne in France, were found to be false Coin; he having put off some of the said Money without the least Thought of its being a counterfeit Coin: Upon which in the said Stephen Denston’s Absence, his Chamber where he lodg’d was broke open, and the rest of the Pieces were seized, with all his other Money, Goods, &c. By good Fortune he was met by a particular Friend just off the Hills, who told Mr. Denston what had happened, and advised him to make his Escape, saying, that if he was taken, he certainly would be broke on the Wheel. He was struck with Surprize hearing this melancholy News, and wandered about the Country for ten Days in Disguise: After suffering extreme Hardships, being in a deplorable Condition (the Drums beating and describing his Person in the neighbouring Sea Port Towns for apprehending him) he by great Providence got to a Vessel, which brought him safe to Dover, tho’ at a great Expense, so hopes every Body will be careful how they take any more of that Money.
BG, October 9, 1732
Newport, Rhode Island, Octob. 11. Thomas Hammett, under Sentence of Death for the Murder of Kathrine Cook, found Means to get off his Irons; and Yesterday towards Night, his Wife and Child going to visit him, after staying about half an Hour, she came to the outward Door of the Prison, and desired the Prison-Keeper to lend her a Mugg to fetch some Milk for her Husband; adding, ’Tis no matter now I think on’t there’s one in the Room with him. Presently after, Hammett having put on his Wife’s Cloak and Bonnet, knock’d at the Door, and the Prison-Keeper letting him into the Priviledg’d Room, he walk’d through it in the View of him and several others, who mistook him for his Wife. The Prison-Keeper going immediately to Lock the Doors, found his Prisoner was gone, and his Wife and Child left in the Room where he was confin’d. Upon which Notice was given by beat of Drumm in the Town, and the Sheriff, with several Officers of the Militia, rode out on the Island in quest of him.
BG, March 18, 1734
Let him shew if he can that their necessity to making Returns has not equally affected all Paper Currency, let him shew if he can, that one Ounce of Silver to be paid three, Six and Ten Years hence, is worth Nineteen shillings in Hand of Public Bills, especially as we have no security of being paid any Silver at all. It will be Time enough for him after that to set our Acts of Assembly, while he with such seeming earnestness so often demands of me, after they have been published by beat of Drum in our Captial, as he calls it, proclaimed in every Town in the Colony, and all but the last printed above two Years ago.
BNL, June 24, 1736
Boston: Last Monday the corpse of the honourable Thomas Fitch, Esq.,4 (whose death we mentioned in our last) was inter’d with great Respect and Honour; The Regiment of this Town of which he was formerly Colonel, were under Arms on this Occasion, and march’d before The Corpse with their Firelocks revers’d, The Colours, Drums, etc. all covered with Black.
BNL, October 28, 1736
We have an Account from Philadelphia, That on the 5th of this Instant, a Body of near Three Hundred Men in Arms, in a warlike Manner, entered to county of Lancaster, in that Province, and with Beats of Drums and Sounds of Trumpet, advanced to the Plantation of John Hendricks, on the west Side of the Susquehanah with Intent, as they says, to out by Force several of his Majesty’s Subjects.
BNL, March 24, 1737
On Thursday Night, the 24th Instant, the middle Market House in this Town, together with several Butchers’ Shops near the same, were cut, pull’d down and entirely demolished by a Number of Persons unknown; and several Posts of the North-Market House were also sawn asunder the same Night: Whereupon His Honour our Lieut. Governor the next Day call’d a Council on that Affair and issued out the following Proclamation, which on Saturday was read by Beat of Drum in several publick Streets of the Town: The same has also been printed and posted up.5
BNL, April 14, 1737
To Edward Winslow, Esq; in Boston Sheriff of Suffolk County, Col. Winslow,
I now in behalf of my self and others who assembled as a Mob assure you, that we have done what we think proper; and are of the Opinion, that you had as goods be still, and silent, and let alone your Drums and Guns, for we had no Design to do the Town any Damage, but a great deal of Good.6
BNL, July 10, 1740
By His EXCELLENCY
JONATHAN BELCHER, Esq. . . . A Proclamation.
. . . That each Company shall consist of One hundred Men including four Serjeants, four Corporals and two Drummers, besides Commission Officers . . .
. . . That all the Serjeants, Corporals, Drummers and private Soldiers shall be entitled to receive His Majesty’s Pay from the respective Days they shall be enlisted.
BG, March 17, 1752
We have Advice from Fairfield in Connecticut, that about 10 Days ago two Bills of the new Emission of Rhode-Island Money, made their Appearance in that Town; upon which the whole Town was called together by Beat of Drum, and having apprehended the Bills, proceeded in solemn Procession with them to the Whipping-Post, whereon they first nail’d them fast, then scourg’d them . . .
BG, October 18, 1756
N.B. There is wanted a Person that blows the French Horn, two Trumpeters, and a Drummer.
[This comes after an ad for sailors to work on board the Privateer Snow]
BG, January 3, 1757
This is to give Notice to all Gentlemen Seamen and able bodied Landmen, that there is now compleatly fitted out in the Harbour of Boston for a Privateer, the Ship Hertford, a prime Sailor . . . Persons who have serv’d in the Provincial Troops, tho’ not seamen, will be more acceptable than any other Landmen; and any Person well qualified for a Gunner will meet with great Encouragement; also Persons who can blow a French Horn or Trumpet are wanted.
BNL, August 24, 1758
Extract of a Letter, dated Chabarous-Bay, July 29:
I have now the Pleasure to tell you that Yesterday Morning I was agreeably Entertain’d with the Grenadier’s March finely play’d upon 3 Fifes & 2 Drums, relieving the Grenadier’s Guard under British Colours upon the Walls of Louisbourg, which is a fine Tune the French have not danced to for some Time, but now it’s Time for ’em to pay the Fifers.
BNL, June 7, 1759
Before my Departure I issued out Beating Orders for the raising the second Levy of 1500 Men, for which the late House had made Provision.7
BNL, June 14, 1759
BOSTON. Extract of a Letter from Berkley, (in this Province) dated the 24th ult:
We had a very threat’ning Alarm on the 10th of this Month, about Ten O’Clock in the Forenoon, which arose from the North-West, and proceeded to the South-East. The Noise resembled the regular Discharge of three small Cannon; after which, a sound was heard, like the Beating of a Number of Drums, which continued for the Space of six Minutes, as near as I can judge. I am inform’d, the same was heard through great Part of the Country.
BG, August 13, 1759
News of the French defeat at Niagra by General William Johnson—NEW YORK, August 6:
Upon the Return of our Troops to General Johnson with the Prisoners, he immediately sent a Flag of Truce in to the Commander of the Fort, and demanded a surrender, telling him of the Defeat of the reinforcement he expected, but the French Commandant would not give Credit to what Gen. Johnson said, till he had sent a Flag of Truce with a Drum into our Camp, and found it but too true.
BEP, August 2, 1762
To the Publishers of the BOSTON EVENING POST . . . . SIR, You will not be at all surprised when I tell you, that I have had very ill luck in the LOTTERY; but you will stare when I further tell you, it is because I have got a considerable Prize in it. I received the glad tidings of my misfortune last Monday night, when on looking over the list of the prizes, as I was got behind my pipe at the club, I found that my ticket had come up a Two Thousand Pound. . . . In consequence of the information given in the News-Papers, we were no sooner sat down to breakfast, than we were complimented with a Rat-a tattoo from the drums, as if we had been just married; after these had been silenced by the usual method, another band of music saluted us with a peal from the marrow bones and cleavers, to the same tune. I was harrassed the whole day . . . . Your’s JEOFFREY CHANCE. P.S. I am just goint to Club—I hope they won’t desire me to treat them again.
BG, October 18, 1762
An account of the Expedition against St. John’s in Newfoundland, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel WILLIAM AMHERST:
. . . an Officer with two Drums came out of the Fort beating the Chamade, and about Noon the Garrison surrendered themselves Prisoners of War.
BG, February 27, 1764
PHILADELPHIA, February 9. . . . on Wednesday Morning, there was a fresh Alarm, occasioned by a false Report, that Four Hundred of the same People8 were on their March to attack the Town. Immediately, on Beat of Drum, a much greater Number of the Inhabitants, with the utmost Alacrity, put themselves under Arms.
BG, May 19, 1766
This Day being set apart for the public Rejoicings on account of the Total Repeal of the Stamp Act, the Dawn was ushered in by the Ringing of all the Bells in Town, Guns Firing, Drums Beating, and all Sorts of Musick—Besides a Display of Colours on board the Shiping in the Harbour, and on the Tops of Houses, &c.—LIBERTY TREE is decorated in a splendid Manner.
BG, June 2, 1766
Abington, May 17, 1766. Messieurs EDES & GILL, THIS Morning passed through this Town two Strangers, with the Glorious News of the REPEAL of the Stamp Act . . . The News was immediately proclaimed by beat of Drum, and the ringing of our Bells, by which Means were collected a large Number of People (considering we were in the midst of Planting).
BG, May 11, 1772
WANTED Immediately! For his Excellency’s Company of CADETS, Two Fifers that understand Playing. Those that are Masters of Musick, and are inclin’d to engage with the Company, are desired to apply to Col. JOHN HANCOCK.
BRC, 23rd Report, p. 78.
Jany. 11. 1775. The following was an advertisement for the papers:
Complaints have been made to the Selectmen that numbers of the Inhabitants have been greatly disturbed by the driving of Slays thro’ the Town, with the beat of Drums & other noises, at unseasonable Times of the Night; To prevent such Disorders for the future, Orders have been given the Constables of the Town Watch to stop such offenders and make Report of their Names, that they may be dealt with as the Law directs.
The following Orders were sent to the Constables of the Town Watch.
Complaint having been made to the Selectmen that the Inhabitants have been disturbed by the driving of Slays thro’ the Town, with beat of Drum & other Noises at unseasonable times of the Night, you are therefore directed to endeavor to prevent such disorders for the future, by stopping such Offenders, and Reporting to the Selectmen their Names, that such Persons may be proceeded with as the Law directs.
BG, September 2, 1776
PHILADELPHIA, August 14. Pay of a BATTALION in the Continental service . . .
Colonel, 50 Dollars/Kalendar month
Corperal, Drummer & Fifer, ea.
25 raised to
33, June 5, 1776
33, July 5, 1776
BG, September 9, 1776
PHILADELPHIA, August 31. Extract from a letter from an officer in Col. Attlee’s Battalion of Pennsylvania, August 27 . . . about 4 o’clock this morning the alarm was given, by beating to arms, when the remainder of our battalion, accompanied by the Delaware and Maryland battalions went to the place where our men retreated from.
Until 1702 the crier was a town official elected yearly at a public meeting of Boston inhabitants. After 1702 the office no longer appears on the roster of town officials. The profession was thereafter regulated through the issuance of a license, according to a procedure outlined in 1724. Normally two criers were chosen each year, however there were sometimes as many as five chosen in one year. A man sometimes held the office of scavenger or hogreeve in conjunction with his role as town crier. The “common crier” cried lost or found goods, strays and public sales through the streets and market places of Boston. He was directed to announce public meetings and adjournments. He could be hired by private individuals concerning domestic matters, however he was subject to a fine should he cry anything foolish or obscene.
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 55.
September 7, 1640
At a generall townes meeting . . . chosen . . . for towne Crier, William Courser.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 30.
March 1, 1666
John Crosse is hereby ordered to attend the yoaking and ringing of the Swyne belonging to the inhabitants of the towne and to asseize all forfeitures that shall arise by the Swine not being yoaked and ringed according to order . . . John Crosse is apointed to be the Toune cryer, to be allowed 2d. for what he cryeth att the metting house, And what he Crye upp & downe from street to street is to be allowed 6d. a time; further the sd. John Crosse is ordered to cleare the streets of Carron, & other offensive matters.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 107–108.
March 12, 1677
Voted yt this towne hath need of two stated & constant Cryars to crie lost or found Goods who are to keepe a booke of what they crie yt any psons may repaire to them for satisfaction of things lost or found, & that the Crier shall have 6d. for cryinge three publique dayes & 12d. if they goe through the towne. Alsoe that John Tucker Taylor & Joseph Gridlie9 be the psons apoynted for that Office and all other persons are hearby prohibited without further order upon the penaltie of 5s. for every transgression therein.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 116.
March 10, 1678
At a publique meetinge . . . for the election of officers for the towne of the yeare ensuinge were chosen . . . Cryars—John Tucker, John Howen.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 126.
March 10, 1679
At a publique meetinge . . . for election of officers for the yeare ensueing were chosen . . . Towne Cryers—John Tucker, John Howen.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 137–138.
March 8, 1680
At a publique meetinge . . . for the election of officers for ye yeare ensueinge were chosen . . . 3 Cryers—John Tucker, John Howen, John Crosse. 8 Hogg Reeves—Joseph Cowell, John Child, 3 scavengrs. and the 3 Cryers.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 142–143.
March 14, 1681
At a meetinge of the inhabitants of Bostone . . for election of officers for yeyeare ensueinge were chosen . . . 3 Cryars—John Tucker, John Howen, & John Crosse. 8 Hogg Reeves—Joseph Shaw Alexander Bogle, & the 3 scavengers & 3 Cryars foregoinge.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 153–154.
March 13, 1682
At a publique meetinge . . . for the election of officers . . . were chosen . . . 4 Scavengers—John Crosse, John Glover, Wm Lane senr. John Matthewes. 4 Hogg Reeves—Joseph Shawe, John Howen, John Tucker, and Robert Noakes. 4 Cryers—John Tucker, John Crosse, Nicho. White, John Howen.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 158–159.
March 12, 1683
At a publique meetinge . . . for the election of towne officers . . . were chosen . . . 4 Scavengers—John Howen, George Cable, Samuell Bedwell, & Joseph Gridley. 4 Hogg Reeves—James Harris, Samll Homes, James Hawkins, and Ambrose Dawes. Cryars—Robert Wittall, John Howen.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 165.
March 10, 1684
At a publique meetinge . . . for the election of officers . . . were chosen . . . 4 Cryers—John Crosse, John Howen, John Tucker, Robert Withall. 4 Scavengers—John Crosse, John Howen, John Tucker, Robert Withall.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 173.
March 9, 1685
At a publique meetinge . . . for the election of officers . . . were chosen . . . 4 Cryers—John Tucker, Robt Withall, John Crosse, John Howen, Richd Drewe.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 183.
March 8, 1686
At a publique meetinge . . . for the election of officers . . . were chosen . . . 4 Cryrs.—John Tucker, Robert Withall, John Crosse, Richd Drewe.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 191.
March 14, 1687
At a meetinge of the freeholdrs. of Bostone . . . for the election of officers . . . were chosen . . . 4 Cryars—John Tucker, Robert Withall, Richd Drew, Gabriell Wardner.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 196–197.
At a publique meeting . . . for the election of officers . . . were chosen . . . 2 Cryers—John Tucker, Robert Withall.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 199.
March 10, 1690
At a publique meetinge . . .
4 Cryers. John Tucker, Richard Drew, Nicho White, John Mulbery.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 205–206.
March 9, 1691
At a publique meetinge . . .
3 Cryers.—John Tucker, John Allison, John Mulbery.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 210.
March 14, 1692
At a publicke town metting . . .
Cryars—John Tucker, John Eliset.
BRC, 7th Report pp. 212–213.
March 13, 1693
At a meeting of the freholders of Boston . . .
Cryers—John Tucker, John Alleset
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 217–218.
March 12, 1694
At a publick meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of Boston . . .
Cryers. John Tucker, John Alliset.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 219–220.
March 11, 1695
At a publick meeting of freeholders and inhabitants . . .
Cryers—John Tucker, John Alliset.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 220.
March 25, 1695
At a meeting of the Selectmen . . .
Cryer—In the Room of John Tucker (that dyed since he was chosen) Daniell Bristow.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 222.
March 9, 1696
At a publicke meeting of freeholders and other inhabitants . . .
Cryers—Daniel Bristow, Robert Shelston.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 225–226.
March 8, 1697
At a publick meeting of Freeholders and other inhabitants . . .
Cryers—Robert Shelston, Daniell Bristow.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 229.
March 14, 1698
At a publick town meeting . . .
Cryers—Robert Shelstone, Gabrill Warner.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 233–34.
March 13, 1699
At a publick meeting . . .
Cryers—Gabrill Warner, Robert Shelstone.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 239.
March 11, 1700
At a publick meeting . . .
Cryers—Gabrill Worner, Robert Shelstone.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 243.
March 10, 1701
At a publick town meeting . . .
Cryers—Tho: Davis, Robt. Shelstone, Gabril Warner.
BRC, 8th Report, p. 22–23.
March 9, 1702
At a Publick Meeting . . .
Thomas Davise, Robert Shelston, Gabriel Warner & Ezekiell Gardener are chosen Cryers.
BRC, 13th Report, p. 62.
December 14, 1719
Ordered. That the Granary be Opened on Wednesdayes and Fry-dayes, and that on those dayes mr Calvin Galpine be directed to Sell to ye Inhabitants of this Town, (Excepting to the Com̄on Bakers) at the following Prizes vizt
And that he cause Notice thereof be given by Crying.
BRC, 8th Report, p. 189.
March 9, 1724
For preventing the many Irregularities & Inconveniences that may happen through the Multiplicity of Com̄on Cryers, every one that pleases takes upon him to Cry Lost and Stolen Goods &c.
It is therefore ordered
That no person whatsoever presume to be a Com̄on Cryer, or Cry any Sort of Goods wares or Merchandize Lost of Found or Stolen goods, Strays, Publick Sales &c, within any of the Streets Lands, Alleys, or Market place or places of this Town, on Penalty of ten Shillings for every offence, Except only Such Person or Persons as Shall be Licenced by the Selectmen, And every Person so Licenced Shall keep a true and perfect List of all matters and things by him so Cryed, and give into the Town Clerk once every month a true and perfect copy therof with the things by him Cryed, and the names of the Person that ordered him to Cry the Same, and if the Cryer or Cryers Shall Cry any vain foolish prophain or Obscene matter, He Shall forfeit and pay Ten Shillings fine, and be Discharged from his Place or Office, And the Person that ordered the Crying thereof, Shall pay a fine of Twenty Shillings: Voted and that it be presented to the Sessions for Approbation—
BRC, 13th Report, p. 139.
July 6, 1725
Rice Gunter upon his Petition was allowed to be a Cryer of the Town while further Order.
Cornelius George was alowed to be A cryer of the Town as above.
BNL, February 25, 1731
Whereas several Persons have of late presumed to take up the Business of Crying Goods lost or found in this Town, who have not been allow’d by the Select Men, according to the Law of this Province, and the By-Laws of the Town; The Select Men of Boston do hereby Notify, that Arthur Hill is appointed a Cryer for the Town, and no other Person may take up the said Business, upon the Penalty in the Law in that Case made and provided, until Impower’d by the Select Men according to Law.
BNL, December 14, 1732
Last Wednesday Night Robert Larks a Cryer of Fish at the South End of the Town, being poor and inform, was carried to the Alms House, where he dyed the next Day.
And, James Perry another Cryer of Fish in the same Part of the Town, who was so well as to go about with Salt Mackrel to sell on Saturday last, died suddenly the next Morning, aged near Eighty Years.
BRC, 13th Report, p. 289.
March 31, 1736
Mr. Arthur Hill10 was licenced by the Select men to be a publick Cryer within the Town of Boston, And accordingly ordered to keep a true and perfect List of all Matters and things by him Cryed, and to give in to the Town Clerk, once every month, a true and perfect Copy thereof with the names of the Persons that ordered or Employed him to Cry the same, agreable to a Law in that Case made and provided.
BRC, 14th Report, pp. 319–329.
December 12, 1757 (By-Laws of the Town. Chap. 7, Par. 5)
It is Voted and Ordered that the Selectmen of the Town shall from time to time appoint one or more Common Cryers, and no Person except so appointed shall presume to Act as Cryer for others on the Penalty of five shillings for each Offence; and every Person so appointed Cryer shall keep a true & perfect List of all Things by him Cried, and the Names of the Persons who ordered him to Cry the same, and give in a true Copy thereof to the Town Clerk once a Month on the Penalty of ten shillings for each neglect: and the Selectmen shall from time to time appoint the Fees of the said Cryer which he shall not exceed on Penalty of five shillings for each Offence.
BG, May 11, 1767
Thursday Morning Mr. Jenkins the Town-Cryer fell down just as he was going out to cry Fish, and died instantly.
BNL, October 27, 1768
Monday last in the Afternoon, a Child of about 3 Years of Age, Son of Mr. Benjamin Goodwin, at the North-End, being missing from School, a Search was made, and the Cryer employed about the Town, but no Intelligence of it was had till late in the Evening, when upon its being cry’d in the Common, a Soldier’s Wife gave Information that such a Child had been bro’t to their Tent by a Woman belonging to the Town, and the Child being weary was lain down and asleep.
BNL, November 10, 1768
Whereas I the Subscriber here-undermentioned has through the Innovations and groundless Suspicions of ill-minded Persons, treated my wife Elizabeth Baker in a scandalous manner, by publishing her in the public Prints, and by the Cryer of this Town; be it known to all persons whatever, that I hereby revoke all and every Sentence that has been printed or said by the Cryer of this Town in my Behalf. Boston, November 3, 1768. Witness my Hand, THOMAS BAKER.
BRC, 26th Report, pp. 183–184.
March 30, 1781
Voted, that the Cryer be directed to inform the Inhabitants of the Adjournment and that he be furnished by the Town Clerk with a written Notification—also that the several Sextons be directed to ring the Bells of the Several Churches at the intended Adjournment.
It is not known when the first meeting house11 bell was hung in Boston. There appears to have been one in Salem as early as 1638 and in Cambridge in the first meeting house in 1632.12 In 1641, Thomas Lechford wrote: “Every Sabbath or Lord’s day they come together at Boston, by wringing of a bell, about nine of the clock or before.”13 Whether this passage refers to a man with a hand bell or the large bell of a meeting house, remains in question.
A distinction must be made between bellmen and bellringers, both of whom were elected by the inhabitants of Boston from about mid-seventeenth century. Bellmen were special watchmen who patrolled the streets at night (between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.), using hand bells to alarm the inhabitants in the event of fire or other danger. The last “bellmen” were elected in Boston in 1678, after which the duties of this office were assumed by watchmen. In 1735, watchmen were required “in a moderate tone to cry the time of night, and give an account of the weather, as they walk their rounds after twelve o’clock.”14
The bellringer rang the bell of a meeting house or marketplace. He sometimes assumed the duties of a sexton, sweeping the meeting house and maintaining the clock, if there was one. The bellringer was required to toll the bell at funerals and often held simultaneously the office of gravedigger. Elaborate rules governed the tolling of bells and other burial procedures.
Bells were rung on joyous occasions to celebrate the arrival of a famous person, a military victory, or the King’s birthday. They called people together for public worship, town meetings and to announce the opening of the market. Bells also sounded the time usually three times a day, that is at 5 a.m., 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.
In the 1660s, John Josselyn, an English traveller, wrote the following description:
On the south there is a small but pleasant common where the Gallants a little before sunset walk with their marmalet madams, as we do in Morefields, &c, till the nine aclock bell rings them home to their respective habitations, when presently the Constables walk their rounds to see good orders kept, and to take up loose people.15
RCN, p. 4.
The 24th of Dec. 1632
Ann Agreement made by a Gennerall Conf for a mounthly meeting.
Impr. that Euery person under subscribed shall [ ] Every second Monday in Every mounth wthin [ ] meetinghouse. In the Afternoone wthin half [ ] ouer after the ringing of the bell and that euery [ ] that make not his personall apearannce there [ ] continews ther wthout leaue from [ ] vntill the meeting bee Ended shall for [ ] default xiid and if it be not paid [ ] meeting then to dobl it and soe vntill [ ]
RCN, pp. 11–12.
The 3d of ffebruary 1634
Att A Gennerall Meeting of the whole Towne Itt was Agreed vppon by a Joynt Consent that. . . . Itt is further ordered that these 5m meet every first Monday in the [ ] at the Constables house in the [ ] at the Ringing of the bell.
RCN, p. 14.
The 7th of December 1735
Itt is Ordered that the mounth
meeting every first Monday [ ]
Acording to the first order shall [ ]
and whosoeuer Apears nott w half an
ower after the Ringing of the [ ] shall
pay for the first day vid and [ ] day xiid and soe to dobl it every day [ ] a Just excuse such as may give satis to the rest of the Company.
RCN, pp. 77–78.
20tḥ 9 ḥ 1648.
It is ordered, that there shalbe an eight peny ordnary prvided, for the Townsmen, euery second munday of the mo: uppon there meeteing day. and that Whoeuer of the Townsemen, faile to be prsent With in half an houre of the Ringing of the Bell, (Which shalbe half an houre after eleuen of the clocke) he shall both lose his dinner, & pay a pinte of sacke or ye vallue to the prsent Townsmen: and the like penalty shalbe payd by any that shall depart from ye rest with out leaue. the Charges of ye dinner shalbe payd by the Cunstables out of the Towne stocke.
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 96.
June 26, 1649
Rich. Taylor is to ringe the bell at 9 of the cloke at night and half an houre after foure in the morninge and is to have for his recompence 4l. a yeare, begininge his year the 24: 4th mo., 1649.16
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 102.
The 9th mo., 1650. [November, 1650.]
At a Generall towne meting upon warning, it was agreed that the Bells Capt. Crumwell17 gave the Towne should be by the Select men disposed of to the Best Advantage, and the produce Laid out for one Bell for a Clocke.
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 108.
The 8th of the istmoneth, 1651. [March 8, 1651/52.]
It is Ordered that James Everell and the Neighbours which set up the Cunditt18 by the Dock shall have on[e] of the Bells (which were given by Capt. Crurhell [sic]) for a Clocke and to enioy it whiles they make that use of it There.
BRC, 2nd Report, pp. 113–115.
14th of 1st mo.,  52–53. [March 14, 1652/53.]
The Seleckt men ar to provid a bellman for to goe about the towne in the night from tenn unto five a Cloke in the morning at such times in Winter as thear is noe wach kept in the towne.19
BRC, 2nd Report, Doc. 46, p. 118.
30th: 11[th month]; 53. [January 30, 1653.]
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 120.
September 25, 1654.
Simon Rogers is Chosen for bellman, to begin the first of Oct. and soe to Contynue till the first of the third mo. next.
BRC, 2nd Report, pp. 127–128.
28:11:55. [January 28, 1655.]
Memoranda, that there is a greatt bell belonging to the towne20 lent to Castle Iland to Capt. Rich. Davenport.
BRC, 2nd Report, p. 141.
25:11:57. [January 25, 1657.]
Richard Taylor is allowed thirty shillings for repairing the clock for his direction to ring by, and is to have five pounds per annum for the future, provided hee bee att charges to keepe a clock and to repayre itt.
BRC, 4th Report, Doc. 9, [Dorchester], p. 109.
10:1: 1661/2. [March 10, 1661/2.]
whereas there is three pounds dew to goodman mead for the bell ringing and cleansing the meetting house, and not sufficient in the towne rate to pay him at present Mr patten did promise to pay goodman mead twenty sixe shillings and eight pence, and ensigne foster to pay the rest and both to bee allowed out of the next towne rate: which said three pound was paid goodman mead and by his order in the rate gathered in 1662 by Jams minott constable.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 11.
27.8.62. [October 27, 1662.]
[Folio 11.] Orders for the Bellman:——You are to walke through and about the Twne from 12 clocke at nighte to 5 in the morning and if you see any extreordnary light or fier in any house or vesselles you are to repaire to the same. And as the danger may be soe giue notis of the same. If you see any light in any Vessell att any of the dockes or Creekes, Command them Oute, And speake to all houses wheare you see any light to haue a care of them, except you know the occation of theare keping the said lighte.
In case of any disorder in any house vessell or street &c. which you iudge dangerious you ar to informe the next Counstable of ye same.
BRC, 7th Report, Doc. 50, p. 22.
25:5:64. [July 25, 1664.]
For the more convenient and exspeditious dispatch of Marchants affayres or any other, or any other relateing to strangers and our Inhabitants.
Itt is ordered that the Bell shall be runge att a 11 of ye Clocke every workeing day to give notice thereof to all persons concernned and that the ringer shall be allowed 12d p. yeare by every parson that commonly resort thereunto and that they may assemble in the Rome under the Towne house, for the space of one hower for the ends above expressed.
BRC, 4th Report, Doc. 9 [Dorchester], p. 123.
the 14th of the (9 mo:) 1664. [November 14, 1664.]
Itē to Goodman Mede for
. . . 03–00–00
his service at the Meeting house
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 27–28.
25:7:65. [September 25, 1665.] . . .
BRC, 7th Report, p. 33.
24:7:66. [September 24, 1666.] . . .
Edward Dauis & Joseph Gridly are apointed Bell men and to begine their seruise the 2d of Octr, att night following.
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], pp. 143–144.
The 9th (7) 1667. [September 9, 1667.] . . .
To the Widdow Meade for Ringing the bell.. 03–00–00
BRC, 7th Report, p. 44.
28:7:1668. [September 28, 1668.] . . .
[Folio 39.] Edward Dauis and Joseph Gridley are chosen for the performance of the Bellmans office to begin at 11 of the clocke & to continue accordinge to direction in folio 11 [see above], and that betweene 11 & 12 of the clocke when they goe forth & at 5 when they returne home they ringe the bell neere Goodman Taylor dore.21
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], pp. 152–154.
[November 9, 1668.] . . .
It. to the Widdow Mead for the worke at the meeting house . . . . . . 03–0–0
. . .
It. for a bell rope . . . . . . 0–1–1
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], pp. 156–157.
. . . 9(12) 1668. [February 9, 1668.] . . .
Nicholas Bolton did agree to tend the meeting house to keep it in decent order and to Ring the bell the yeer insewing for which he is to haue 3li of which 10s of it in money if it can be gott or otherwis to haue 3dvpon the shilling for that 10s Jno Capen and Samuell Clap made the agreement with him being ther vnto appointed by the Select men at ther meeting the day before.
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], p. 160.
. . . 8th (9) 69. [November 8, 1669.] . . .
It. to Nicholas bolton for Ringing the bell and for a days worke to warne a Towne meeting 03–02–00
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], pp. 162–163.
. . . 13 10 1669. [December 13, 1669.]. . . .
Alsoe he is to pay Nicholas Bolton towards his pay for Ringing the bell . . . . . . 1–0–0
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], p. 164.
. . . 9(1) 69/70.] [March 9, 1669/70.] . . .
The same day it was p’posed to the Towne whether they would Grant liberty to Nicholas Bolton to sell Sider or Victuale in a way of Common Entertainment either Saboth day or elce: the Vote was in the Negatiue.
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], p. 166.
. . . 23 (1) 69/70. [March 23, 1669/70.] . . .
The same day Nicholas Bolton was appointed to giue notice of a Towne meeting to be assembled the next Second day to publish towne orders and to giue notice therof to the Seauerall Inhabetants.
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], p. 177.
. . . 11th (7) 71. [September 11, 1671.] . . .
Nicholas Bolton made motion againe that he might haue liberty to sell Cider, the answer was Nagatiue.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 62–63.
. . . 25:7:1671. [September 25, 1671.] . . .
Edward Dauis & Peter Warren are made choyce of Bellmen to begin the 29th instant to the last of april accordinge to the instructions folio 11 & 39 [see above].
BRC, 7th Report, p. 72.
26:7:72. [September 26, 1672.]
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], p. 197.
. . . 9 12 73. [February 9, 1673.] . . .
It was ordered that the meeting hous bell (being broken and it may be dangerous to be rung; it shall not be rung any more but speedily taken downe and meanes vsed to Conueigh it to England that another may be p’cuered either ther or elce wher.22
BRC, 7th Report, p. 89.
28 September . . . .
Edward Dauis & Peter Warren are made choyse of to be Belmen, to walke through the towne every night from the 29th day of this present September to the last day of Aprill next accordinge to instructions in folio 11 & 39 [see above] of this booke.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 90.
28 Dec. . . . .
Agreed with Robert Field that he shall be allowed out of the towne Treasury 51d for ringinge ye bell & three pounds for warninge the towne for one yeare begininge the 1st of Augt last.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 97.
Nov 1[, 1675]. . . .
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], p. 212.
. . . 13.4.76. [June 13, 1676.] . . .
The same day It was agreed with Nicholas Bolton that seeing half the yeer is expiered in which he should Ring the bell therfore for the other halfe yeer he shall haue twenty shillings for the other half yere for Sweeping the meeting house.
BRC, 7th Report, pp. 103–104.
. . . 1676. Oct. 30. . . .
Edward Dauis & Peter Warren are apoynted Bell men. and are both to goe about the towne every night and to observe former orders folio 11 [see above] of this booke.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 113.
[Oct 2[, 1677]. . . .
It was ordered by warrant to the Constables yt but 8 men should watch euery night, of which two to walke to & fro at ye North end of ye towne to Jno Conys lane, two thence to the prison lane, & downe the broade streete & about ye docke, two from the Towne house to Deacon Eliotts house, two thence to the gate vpon the necke, who are to cause the gate to be shutt at night & opened at 5 in the morning, and you are to give spetiall charge to the watch to be carefull about fire, & whatsoeuer Indians shall be found goeinge or comeinge to com̄it to prison, or any other disorderly psons, and to continue the watch till further order. You are to take notice that ye two bellmen are to continue their ordinary cource with theire bells notwithstanding the watch.23
Edward Dauis & Peter Warren are apoynted Belmen, and are both to goe about the towne euery night, seuerallie not togeathr. to begin between 10 & 11 and obserue the orders made formerlie folio 11 & 39 [see above].
BRC, 4th Report, [Dorchester], pp. 235–236.
. . . 22.10.79. [December 22, 1679.] . . .
The same day the Select men agreed with Nathan Bradly to ring the bell and Clens the meeting hous and to carry water for baptisme, and while the bell stands on the hill, he is to haue fower pounds a year and after the bell is brought to the meeting house 3li—10s—0.
BRC, 7th Report, p. 201.
March 17th 1689–90. . . .
At the meetinge of the Selectmen this day it was Agreed betweene them on the behalfe of the towne and Robert Williams24 that he shall continue as formerlie to warne the Towne Meetings vpon occasion, to ringe the bell at Fiue of the Clock in ye morninge, Exchange Bell at eleauen of ye clocke, and at nine in the night, & carfullie looke after & keepe the Towne clocke in the old Meetinge house. To which is aded his goeinge about the Towne at least once a month or oftnr as may be occasion to inquire after New Comers into the Towne & informe the Select men at theire monthlie Meetinges for which he is to be paid 12ld. for one yeare.
RCN, p. 324.
At a Meeting of the Inhabitants of Cambridge May 15tḥ̣ 1699. . . .
Also by the Inhabitants of this part of the Town was then Granted a Rate of Ten pounds in Money for the Repairs of the Meeting house & paying for the Ringing ye Bell & Sweeping the said Meeting house
RCN, pp. 327–329.
At a Meeting of the Inhabitants of Cambridge orderly Convened March 11tḥ̣ 1700 . . . the Coice of Town Officers for ye year ensuing there were then Chosen a ffolloweth . . . On Sḍ dau of Choice was voted to give the little Meeting house Bell to the ffarmers . . . Voted then that the Select Men in the name of the Inhabitants do give their thanks to Capt Andrew Belcher for the Bell for their Meeting house he has given them
BRC, 8th Report, p. 13.
12 May 1701. . . .
Ordered, That none shall bury the body of any dead person without makeing the same Publick by causeing a first and second Toll of the bell of one of the Publick meeting houses on pain of forfeiting the sum of Twenty shillings for every such offense. Nor shall any in hurrying of their dead exceed One hour from the time of the begining of the Toll of the second bell, untill the corps shall be carryed out of the house from whence such corps is to be burryed, and be on motion towards the grave, on pain of forfeiting Twenty shillings for every such offence. And if any person or persons shall bury their dead on the Lord’s day he or they shall not exceed one hour from the beginning of the Toll of the first bell untill the corps be carryed forth out of the house an on motion towards the grave, on pain of forfeiting Twenty shillings for every such offence.
BRC, 11th Report, p. 30.
January 18th [, 1703].
Ordered that notice be given unto the Severall persons com̄only Imployd in Tolling of Bells for Funeralls.
That dureing the present Sickness [smallpox] and untill furder order, there is to be only a first and Seacond bell told for each funerall, each bell not to exceed the Space of halfe a quarter of an hour.
BRC, 11th Report, p. 31.
. . . Aprill 16th.. . . .
Ordered that the Town Clerke give out warrants for Conveing the Inhabits. on Tuseday the 27th. Instt. at two of the Clock in the after noon to Chuse four Representitives to Serve at ye next Genll. Assembly, and to Chuse one Constable, and to advise abt. any other thing needfull to be debated, And that Tickets for the warning be printed, and all the Bells ordered to be rung, and a minister spoken to.
BRC, 11th Report, pp. 51–52.
June 24th. 1706. . . .
Ordered that the Severall bell ringers within this Town, at their Tolling of Bells for funeralls, Shall Turn up an Hour glass at the begining of the Second bell for each Funerall on week dayes, and at the begining of the first bell for funeralls on Lords dayes and by their Information to Assist Mr. Exercise Cunnunt or whom else the Select men Shall appoint, of what they Shall know relateing to the breach of the Town order for regulating of buryalls, or for ye preventing thereof. And they are likewise directed to give notice to all persons who Shall bespeak the Tolling ye bell for any funerall, that care is taken to prosecute the breach of Sd. Town order.
BRC, 11th Report, p. 129.
. . . Aprll 2d. . . . .
Ordered. That notice be given to the Bell-Ringers that they are ordered that in Toling of Bells for Funeralls, where a third Bell is desired, the Same Shall begin at the Expiration of just on hour after the begining of the Toll of the Seacond Bell, and they are directed to notifie the Same to Such as Shall bespeak the Tolling of Bells for any Funerall.
BRC, 11th Report, p. 148.
. . . Octor. 15th . . . .
Whereas the Sel. men did on the 3d of Octobr Curt order Job Ingram to ring ye Bell at Mr Colmans [Brattle Street Church] at nine, five & eleven of ye Clock. It is now ordered Mrs Williams25 wtn the Leave of Mr. Pembertons [Old South] Church do ring that bell at nine at night & five in the morning.
BRC, 11th Report, p. 174.
[Octobr. 6th.. . . .
Agreed wth Job Ingram that he is to Ring ye Bell at nine & at Eleven of ye Clock from ye 3d of Octobr Currt for the Space of Six moneths esuing for wch he is to be paid at the Rate of twelve Shill. p. moneth.
BRC, 11th Report, p. 181. . . .
March 30, 1713.
Agreed wth Joh Ingram that he continue to ring ye Bell from ye 3d of Aprill next for the Space of Six moneths to be pd for ye Same twelve Shill p. mo. at 9 & 11 o clock.
BRC, 11th Report, p. 194.
. . . Octor 6, 1713.
Agreed. That Job Ingram do continue as formerly to Ring ye Bell at nine & Eleven a Clock, at ye Rate of twelve Shill. p. moneth from ye 3d curt for the Space of 6 moneths ensuing, unless in the Intrim he be otherwise ordered.
BRC, 11th Report, p. 216.
. . . 27th of Septr. .
Ordered. That the Bell ringers Salleryes as Stated the 7th Curt Shal com̄ence as followeth vizt.
That ten Shillings be allowed to each of them for their Service preceeding the first of Septr Curt.
And that whereas the former Settlement was to James Townsend [at “Old North”] as Sucessor to Andr Willet 50 p. annum for ye 5 a clock bell, 50 Shill for ye 9 a clock & 40 Shill for Attending the Clock, And to James Williams [at “Old South”] 50 Shill. for ye 5 a Clock, 50/ for the 9 a Clock & 40 Shill. for ringing ye bell at 11 a clock, So that from the 1st of Septr Instt, following they are each of them to be pd. 9li p. annum.
BRC, 11th Report, p. 234.
. . . 6th of Septṛ 
Ordered. That the Town Watch men whereof Mr Exercice Conant is at present the Overseer do each morning for the Space of Six moneth ensuing, give Seasonable notice to James Williams Bell ringer, to Ring the Bell at five of the clock, in as much as at present there is no Town clock, Where by otherwise he might have notice. And the Sd. Over seer is directed to give order yt ye Same be attended.
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc. 77], p. 22.
July 9, 1717
Ordered. That the T. Clerk do Supply ye Several Sextons or Bell Ringers in this Town wth the Penall Order or By-Law of ye Sd Town Relating to Regulating of Buryalls.
And the Sd Bell ringers are directed to give notice to Such of ye Inhabitants as shall Bespeak the Tolling for any funerall That the Selectmen are detirmined to revive the prosecution of the penalty against such as Shall Transgress ye Sd Order.
And they are likewise directed that when a Third or Passing Bell is desired, they are to begin to Toll the Same not exceeding one hour after the beginning of the Toll of ye 2d bell for the Same Funerall.
BRC, 8th Report, p. 136.
March 10th[, 1718/19] . . .
[Folio 382.] Voted. An allowance of three pounds, & ten Shilling p annum to the Bell Ringer at ye New South meeting house, in Case he perform Ringing Sd Bell at nine of the Clock at night and at five in ye morning as is allowed to the other Bell ringers for ye like Service . . .
BRC, 8th Report, pp. 138–139
29th day of April 1719.
Voted. That the Bell ringer at the New South in Case he duly perform the ringing ye Bell at five & nine of the Clock be allowed as the other Bell ringers for the like Servise Seven pounds p’ annum in Stead of what was entered p. 382 [see above folio 382].
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc. 77], p. 87.
[September 11, 1721.] . . .
Pursuant to a Resolve of the General Court made & past the 8th of Sepr. Currant, Impowering the Select men to Regulate funerals in the Town of Boston.
Ordered. that at Each funeral there Shal be but one Bell tolled, and that but a first and a Second time, and that it Shal be at the Election of the Person or persons ordering the funeral which Bell they will haue tolled, and that the time of Each funerals goeing Shal be for & during this month of Septr. betwen the Hours of hue & Six in the after noon, and after that betwen the houres of four and fiue until further order, Except in exterordinary Caces, in which they are to procure Liberty in Wrighting of the Concent of two of the Select men at the least, and non of the Said Bells are to Toll longer than Six minuets, and that for the funerals of Indians, Negros & mollattos the Bel shall toll but once for each, and that in carying them to their graues, they Shal pass the nearest way; and the Several persons that Toll the Bells are hereby ordered to conforme thereto under the penalty there Exprest.26
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc 77], p. 88.
[September 21, 1721.] . . .
The Select men Did order & Direct, That One Bell only be made use of for a funeral and that to be Tolled but Twice, each Tolling not to exceed the Space of Six Minutes, Every person to make use of what Bell they Shal See fit, and that no bell be Tolled for any funeral before four aclock after noon, the Second Tolling to be within an Hour after at the farthest until the End of Octor next, and from thence to the end of february following the first Tolling of the Bell for all funerals Shal not begin till halfe an Hour after three a Clock, except in Extraordinary caces, Two of the Select men at least giving liberty in writing under their Hands to alter the time of any funeral.
further that there be but one Tolling of a Bell for the funeral of any Indian, Negro or Molatto, & that they be Carried the nearest way to their Graues.
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc. 77], pp. 91–92.
[December 12, 1721.]
. . . Passed an Order Regulating the Tolling Bells at funerals in Said Town and in as much as the funerals at the present thro’ the goodness of God are very much abated, & not many more then in a time of health.
Therfore the aforeSaid order is Superceaded, and the Bells may be Tolled for funerals as heretofore accustomed til further order of the Select men.
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc. 77], p. 130.
August 31, 1724.
. . . Ordered that for Town Meetings there be Rong Bells but at three meeting Houses, Namly at the old North at the Brick and at the New South and that mr James Williams haue Notis of it.
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc 77], p. 190.
August 25, 1726.]
. . . Ordered that James Williams haue aded to his Salary for Rin[g]ing the 11 a clock Bel Ten Shill pr annum.
BRC, 12th Report, p. 40.
[March 13, 1732.]
Voted. That there be alowed and Payed to John Chambers27 the Sum of Six pounds for His Ringing the Bell at the South meeting House at one of the Clock for the year Insueing.
BRC, 12th Report, pp. 44–45.
May the 11th [, 1733]. . . .
Isaac Peirce28 His Petition was Read and Voted That Six pounds be alowed and Paid Him for Ringing the Bell at the old north meeting House at one of the Clock for this year.
BNL, April 18, 1734
We hear that by the Influence of His Excellency our Governour, Mr. Thomas Hollis of London (Nephew to our Great Benefactor) has generously presented a fine Bell of about Eight Hundred Pounds weight, to the South Church in Hollis-Street, in this Town, whereof The Rev. Mather Byles is Pastor; the Said Bell came last Lord’s Day in Capt. Homans, and will soon be plac’d in the Tower.
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc. 77], p. 253.
[May 16, 1734.]
His Excellency the Governor acquainting the Select Men, That on the morrow he intends to Celebrate the Marriage of Her Highness the Princess Royal of Great Britain with His Highness the Prince of Orange Desiring the Select Men to Accompany Him for that purpose.
. . . And that the Several Bells in the Town be Rung, and the Sextons have an allowance for their pains in doing the same.
BRC, 12th Report, pp. 133–134.
Boston 10th. Mar. 1735. . . .
Voted, That the Ringing of Bells at the Opening of the Markets, be Discontinued.29
Voted, That the Sum of Five Pounds be Allowed and Paid to Each of the Three Sextons, for Ringing the Market Bells the Year past.
BRC, 15th Report, [Doc. 87], p. 26.
Mar. 4, 1736.
Voted, That Monday the 14th of March instant, be appointed for the Town’s meeting, for the Choice of Town officers and etc. The Meeting to begin at 9 o’clock in the Morning, and mr. Savell is ordered to Speak to the Sextons to Ring the Bells accordingly.
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc. 77], pp. 301–302.
[June 15, 1736.]
. . . The Government having Appointed Wednesday the Sixteenth instant for the Celebration of the marriage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales with her Highness the Princess of Saxe Gotha.
It is Voted and Ordered That the Bells in The several Churches of this Town be rung upon this Joyful Occasion, from between Six and Seven o’clock in the Morning, to Twelve at noon, and from Two o’clock afternoon to between Seven and Eight in the Evening. And that Each of the Sextons be allow’d and paid Twenty Shillings apeice for that Service.
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc. 77], p. 305.
[July 14, 1736.]
. . . Mr. Sendall Williams30 attending according to order, And being Informed, That Complaints were Exhibited against him for his Uncertain and Irregular Ringing the Bell at 9, 5, and 11 O Clock. He offered some Reasons for Excusing the same; and withal Signified his readiness to resign that Office, when his Quarter is up.
BRC, 13th Report, [Doc. 77], p. 316.
[August 27, 1736.]
. . . Mr. Sendall Williams having Signified his readiness to resign the Care of Ringing the Old Church Bell at 9.5 & 11 O’Clock. As Entred the 14th July last, And his Quarter now Expiring, and Whereas Mr. John Chambers, the Sexton of the South Church appears and Offers to Undertake that Service Praying that he may be Employed Therein, The Select men also Approving of him, as a Suitable person, It was
Voted, That the Care and Charge of Ringing the said Bell be, and hereby is Committed to the said John Chambers; Who is accordingly Directed and ordered Constantly and Carefully to attend that Service, as Usual, at the Hours of nine, Five and Eleven, as aforesaid, For which he is to be paid after the Rate of Eighteen Pounds p annum agreable to a Vote of the Town, as Entred may 21, 1735, to be paid Quarterly, Commencing on Wednesday the first of September next.
BNL, October 7, 1736
BOSTON: On Tuesday last in the Afternoon, the Corpse of the Honorable Madam MARY BELCHER, Consort of His Excellency JONATHANN BELCHER, Esq; our Governour, was entomb’d here with great Respect and Honour: The Rev. Dr. Sewall, on this solemn Occasion made a very suitable Prayer at his Excellency’s House, just before the funeral: The Coffin was cover’d with black Velvet and richly adorn’d . . . His Excellency’s Coach, drawn by four Horses, was cover’d with black Cloth and adorn’d with Escutcheons of the Coat of Arms, both of His Excellency and his deceased Lady. All the Bells in Town were tolled on this mournful Occasion; and during the Time of the Funeral Procession to the Tomb, the Half-Minute Guns began first at His Majesty’s Castle William, which were follow’d by those on board His Majesty’s Ship Squirrel and many other Ships in the Harbour, their Colours being all Day rais’d to the heigth as usual on such Occasions: The Streets thro’ which the Funeral pass’d, the Tops of the Houses and Windows on both sides, were crowded with innumerable Spectators.
BRC, 15th Report, [Doc. 87], p. 58.
July 7,  37. . . .
Deacon Cornelius Thayer appearing, Pray’d That the Select Men would please to Employ Andrew Coffin31 the Sexton of the Old Church, in Ringing the Bell at Five, Eleven, and Nine o’Clock, in the room of mr. Chambers, who now performs that Service, Offering some reasons, and then with drew.
BRC, 15th Report, [Doc. 87], p. 58.
July 13, 1737.
John Chambers Attending According to order, was Inform’d of the motion made In favour of Andrew Coffin, the Sexton of the Old Church, Praying that he might be Employed in Ringing the Bell at Five, Eleven, and Nine o’Clock.
Mr. Chambers accordingly Signified to the Select Men, his Willingness to resign that Office, When the Quarter was Expired, which would be upon the first of September next.
BG, November 7, 1737
On Saturday last the large Bell mentioned in some of our News Papers, was Raised, and placed in the Steple of the West Church in this Town, whereof the Reverend Mr. Hooper is Pastor32; and by good Judges is allowed to have the loudest and most melodious Sound of any Bell in the Country; and we are inform’d was the generous Present of Francis Wilks, Esq; and some of his Friends, who are well Wishers to the Dissenting Protestant Interest.
BG, February 21, 1737
WILLIAM COFFIN, at the Ostrich, near the Draw-Bridge Makes & Sells Mill Brasses, Chambers for Pumps, Brass Cocks of all sizes, Knockers for Doors, Brasses for Chaises, and Sadlers; Brass Dogs of all sorts, Candlesticks, Shovels and Tongs, small Bells, and all other sorts of Founders Ware
Also All sorts of Braziers, and Pewterers Ware, small Stills & Worms, and all sorts of Plumbers Work.
Likewise, Buys old Copper, Brass, Pewter & Lead.
BRC, 15th Report, [Doc. 87], p. 166.
Mar. 6, 1738/39 . . .
Ordered, That Mr. Savell give seasonable Notice to the several Sextons, to Ring the Bells of the Town for the Town Meeting on Monday next, at the Hours of Eight and Nine O’Clock in the Morning.
BRC, 12th Report, pp. 212–213.
Mar. 19, 1738.
A Petition of Sundry Inhabitants, Praying that the Bell belonging to the West Meeting House in Lynde Street, may be rung at the Hours of Nine, Five and One, for the Accomodation of the Inhabitants of that part of the Town, and that the Charge thereof may be born by the Town as Usual.——Read.
Voted, that the Prayer of the Petition be Granted, and that the Customary Allowance be made for the said Service, to be paid out of the Town Treasury.
BG, May 29, 1738.
JOHN WHITEAR, of Fairfield, [Conn.] Bell-Founder, Makes and Sells all sorts of Bells from the lowest size to Two Thousand Weight.
BG, March 5, 1739
To be Sold by Edward Jackson of Boston, Three likely Negro Men that have been brought up to the Nailing Business, a very likely Negro Woman that can do all sorts of Houshold Work, a very likely Negro Girl of about fiv Years of Age; sundry sorts of Nailers Tools, as Bellows, Stakes, Hammers and Nail Tools; also a very good new Bell near five hundred Weight; three second hand Feather Beds, & a good Japan’d Chest of Draws.
BRC, 15th Report, [Doc. 87], pp. 219–220.
January 30, 1739. . . .
Voted, That the time for Choice of Jury men for the Superior Courts in February be Wednesday next, at Three O‘Clock afternoon, and mr. Savell is to Notify the Constables accordingly, and take Care that the Bells be rung as usual.
BRC, 15th Report, [Doc 87], p. 268.
December 18, 1740. . . .
Isaac Peirce Appearing according to Order, upon Complaints made against him for Disorderly Ringing of the North Bell, and being Reprimanded, promised reformation in that Matter.
BRC, 15th Report, [Doc. 87], p. 279.
February 25, 1740. . . .
BRC, 15th Report, [Doc 87], pp. 286–287.
. . . April 15, 1741. . . .
The Select Men taking into Consideration the Petition of John Hooker and Abia Holbrook, desiring to be Admitted as Grave Diggers, together with the Proposals and Petition of Thomas Moulin, Isaac Peirce and John Chambers in answer thereto, presented to the Town at their Meeting in March last, which was refer’d to the Select Men for their Consideration, and by them Impowered to Appoint such further obligations Restrictions and Regulations about the Premisses as they shall think Convenient and having heard them fully thereon.
Voted, That Three meet Persons be Appointed to take Care of the Old and South Burying places; and that the Perquisites thereof be equally divided among them.
Voted, That Thomas Moulin[,]33 John Chambers[,] and Nathanael Band[,]34 be appointed for that Service, at the prices and under the Restrictions & Regulations hereafter mentioned, during their good behavior in that Office vizt.
- I. That one of the said Three Persons with One Assistant at the least, do Always attend the Funeral of every White Person at the Gate of the Burying place to Conduct the Corps to the Grave, and to See the same Covered up.
- II. That the Gates of the Burying places be kept Constantly lock’d, Excepting at such times as they are Opened to receive the Corps, And in the Winter time that the Passage to the Burying places, and to the Graves be kept clear of Snow—And that in Digging the Graves, they so perform it as that the Top of the Coffins, be Three feet under Ground at the least.
- III. That they take Care that the By-Law of the Town made 29th. July 1723. respecting the Burial of Negroes be Strictly Observed, And that they acquaint the Persons by whom they are Employed to Dig the Graves for, and Carry the Corps, of the By-Law of the Town made in 1701, that the time for Carrying out the Corps shall not exceed, one hour from the Tolling of the Second Bell, upon Penalty of Twenty Shillings.
- IV. That the Prices for Opening Tombs & Digging Graves, be as follows, Vizt.
- For Digging a Grave for a white Person, man or woman, Nine Shillings.
- For Ditto, for Children carried by Hand, Four Shillings.
- For Ditto for a Negro Man or Woman, Six Shillings.
- For Ditto, to Twelve Years of age, Five Shillings.
- For Opening the New or Wall Tombs, Twelve Shillings.
For opening the Old Tombs, or those that Stand in the midst of the Burying places, Fourteen Shillings.
BRC, 17th Volume, [Doc 90], pp. 8–9.
March 4, 1742/43. . . .
Voted, That a Hatchment with the arms of Peter Faneuil Esqr. be placed at the West End of Faneuil Hall at the Expence of the Town and mr. Hancock and mr. Cooke are desired to See the thing done . . . and that the Bell on the said House be Tolled from One o’Clock Post Meridiem until the Funeral [of Peter Faneuil] is over.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc 170], p. 4.
March 15, 1742/43. . . .
Voted, That the Sum of Sixty Pounds Bills of the Old Tenor be Allowed and paid out of the Town Treasury unto Mr. Thomas Jackson35 Clerk of Faneuil Market in full for his Service and all Expences he has been at in Sweeping the same and Ringing the Bell.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], p. 25.
September 21, 1743. . . .
Voted That this Meeting be Adjourned till Tomorrow, Three o’Clock in the Afternoon, and the Selectmen are desired to direct & Order that the Several Bells Usually rung for the Town Meetings be rung Tomorrow at Two and Three o’Clock, and that the Selectmen put an Advertisement into the Morrows News Paper to inform the Inhabitants of the Town of this Adjournment. . . .
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], p. 26.
March 12, 1743/44. . . .
[A petition was read] of Sundry Bell-ringers for a further Allowance for ringing the Bells. . . .
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 37–38.
March 14, 1743/44. . . .
The Petition of Isaac Peirce, Thomas Williston, Nathaniel Band, Joseph Simpson & John Roulstone Sextons & Bellringers in the Town as Read at the Opening of the Meeting, Setting forth That the Petitioner Peirce Rings the Bell of the Old North Church at the Hours of One o’Clock at Noon, Nine in the Evening & Five in the Morning, for which he is Allowed by the Town Four Pounds Ten Shillings Old Tenor for a Quarter of a Year, The Petitioner Band Rings the Bell of the New South Church at the Hours of Nine in the Evening & Five in the Morning for which he is Allowed Fifty Shillings Old Tenor a Quarter, The Petitioner Simpson Rings the Bell of the Revd. Mr. Byles’s [Hollis Street] Church at the Hours of Nine in the Evening, Five in the Morning & One o’Clock at Noon, for which he is Allowed Three Pounds Fifteen Shillings Old Tenor a Quarter, That the Petitioner Roulstone Rings the Bell of the Old South Church at One o’Clock for which he is Allowed Thirty Shillings Old Tenor a Quarter, That the Petitioner Williston Rings the Bell of the Old Brick Church at the Hours of Five in the Morning, Eleven in the Forenoon and Nine in the Evening, for which he is Allowed Four Pounds Ten Shillings Old Tenor a Quarter, That the Petitioners would Represent to the Town that the aforesaid Allowance for the Service aforesaid is so very small, being but about Three pence Old Tenor for each Ringing, that the Petitioners Apprehend they are not by any means Recompenced for their Time & Service and as the Petitioners Allowance is no greater now than has been for about Thirty Years past and Provisions & all Necessarys of Life more than twice as Dear as they were Thirty Years since, they Apprehended the Town would think it reasonable to Increase their Allowance——They therefore Prayed the Town to take the Premisses into Consideration and make them such further Allowance for the aforesaid Services as shall be thought reasonable——which Petition was Read again & after some Debate thereon.
Voted That the Selectmen be desired to Consider thereof, as also what further Regulation is proper to be made as. . . . . to the Ringing of the Bells, and of the Allowance to be made to the Sextons for the same.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 44–45.
[May 4, 1744.]
. . . Sundry Petitions—Read. Vizt. . . . of Sundry Inhabitants to have the New Brick Church Bell rung at Eleven o’Clock . . .
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 48–49.
[May 9, 1744.]
. . . The Petition of Sundry Inhabitants praying the Bell at the New Brick Church at the North End may be rung at Eleven o’clock in the Forenoon and such Allowance be made to the Sexton therefor as shall be thought proper.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 62–65.
March 5, 1745.
. . . A Motion made by Mr. Joseph Marion, that as the Old Brick Church Bell which for many years past has been rung at five and eleven o’Clock in the forenoon, and nine in the Evening is now broke, the Town would now direct that the old South Church Bell shall be rung at those hours.
The Petition of Isaac Peirce Sexton of the old north Church praying an Additional Allow ance may be made him for ringing The Bell there, was read, and thereupon Voted that the prayer of the said Petition be refer’d to the Selectmen, they to Act thereupon as they shall think proper.——
The Motion of Mr. Joseph Marion made at the Opening of the Meeting, that the Old South Church Bell may be rung at the hours of 5. 11 & 9 a Clock instead of the old Church bell which is now broke, came under Consideration, and after some debate thereon Voted that the said Bell be accordingly rung at those hours until the Bell of the old Church be mended and that the Selectmen give directions accordingly.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 66–69.
[March 7, 1745.]
. . . Upon a Motion made & Seconded by Several that the Vote pass’d yesterday for ringing the old South bell at 5, 9 & 11 a Clock may be Reconsidered, it was Voted accordingly & then it was moved and Voted that the Bell at Faneuil Hall Market be rung at those hours (instead of the old South Church Bell) until the Bell of the old Brick Church be repaired.
BRC, 17th Volume, [Doc. 90], p. 110.
[May 1, 1745.]
Voted, that the Bell ringers within the Town be paid for the same as formerly.
Voted, that the Bell at mr. Welsteeds meeting house be Rung every Week Day at Eleven o’clock in the forenoon and that the allowance for the same be in proportion to the other Sextons for Ringing.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 72–73.
[May 3, 1745.]
. . . Mr. Jonathan Williams moved that an order may be passed for ringing the old South Church Bell at the hours of 5. 11. & 9 aClock.
Mr. Middlecott Cooke moved that the Town would make some Consideration to the old Brick Church for their Bell which was lately broke as he apprehends in the Service of the Town.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 74–75.
[May 17, 1745.]
. . . Mr. Jonathan Williams’s Motion made the 3d. instant and Referr’d to this time for ringing the Bell of the old South Church at the hours of 5, 11, & 9 a Clock was taken into Consideration, and after some debate thereon, Voted that the said Bell be rung at the hours of five and nine a Clock, until the Town shall order otherwise.
BNL, July 25, 1745
Boston. Last Week a fine set of 8 Bells were brought hither in a Vessel from Bristol, designed for Dr. CUTLER’s Church at the North Part of this Town: We hear the largest of them is near 1500 Weight, and the whole Set about 7000.36
BRC, 17th Volume, [Doc. 90], p. 124.
October 30, 1745
. . . Voted, That the Sextons of the several Meeting houses be directed to Ring their Bells upon the arrival of His Excellency Governour Shirley from Cape-Breton.37
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 119–121.
[May 12, 1747.] . . .
The Committee appointed to prepare a Draft of a By Law for the better Regulation of Funerals now Reported the same as follows Vizt.
For Preventing the Spreading of Infection in Burying Persons Dying of Malignant Distempers and Rendering the Attendance of the Corps of the Deceased to the Grave less offensive to Paul holders and Under bearers.
And to the Intent there may be stated fixed Prices for digging and carrying to the Grave tolling of Bells &ca.
Therefore Voted that for the future no Person whatsoever shall Presume to break up the Ground in any of the Publick Burial Places but with the Consent of the Selectmen or the Persons Appointed by the Selectmen to the charge of such Burial Place, and for such Prices for opening Tombs and digging of Graves as the Selectmen from time to time shall order and appoint on Pain of Forfeiting Twenty Shillings for every such Offence.
That for the future every Person dying within the Town of Boston that is not carryed in a coach or by hand shall be carryed to the Grave on a Bier to be provided by the Town for that Purpose, and every under bearer that shall presume otherways to carry any Deceased Person or Persons to the Grave each and every of them shall forfeit Twenty shillings for every such Offence. . . .
That for the Burial of any Person within the Town of Boston there shall not be more than the Bells of two Churches toll’d and that but twice at each Church on Penalty of Twenty shillings for each Bell more that shall be Toled at one and the same Funeral to be paid by him that shall order Procure or Tole the same.——
The second or Passing Bell not to exceed one hour and half after the first on Penalty aforesaid.——
That any Person demanding or Receiving any more than the Selectmen shall allow for twice Tolling said Bell at one Funeral shall forfeit the Sum of Twenty shillings.
All Fines and Forfeitures arising from the Breach of the aforesaid orders upon Conviction before any Justice of the Peace for the County of Suffolk to be to the use of the Poor of the Town of Boston.
The above order or By Law to continue and be in Force till the Town shall see cause to Alter the same.
BRC, 17th Volume, [Doc. 90], p. 169.
[July 30, 1747.] . . .
Voted, That the following Allowances be made as by the Towns order, to the several Sextons for Ringing the Bells at the hours Stated by the Town, Vizt.
- Ten Pounds old tenor p. Annum, for once a Day.
- Twenty Pounds—p. Ditto for twice a Day and
- Thirty Pounds—p. Ditto for three times a Day.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], p. 124.
September 1, 1747. . . .
It being Suggested by many of the Inhabitants that the Bells at the North part of the Town has not been Rung this Day for the Notification of the Inhabitants to Attend this Meeting as has been usual, It was moved and Seconded by several that this meeting be therefore immediately Adjourned to three a Clock this Afternoon and Orders given by the Selectmen that the Bells be rung throughout the Town, and the Question being put It was accordingly Voted in the Affirmative.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 136–138.
March 16, 1748. . . .
The Petition of Samuel Hunstable praying an allowance may be made him for Ringing the Bell of the Meeting house at the westerly part of the Town at the Hours of nine and one o Clock for one Year, and five o’Clock for Six Months past was now considered of, and thereupon it was Voted that the Selectmen be and hereby are Impowered to make such an Allowance to said Samuel Hunstable for Ringing said Bell at the above hours as the other Bell Ringers of the Town have made ’em. Also Voted that said Bell be rung at the hours of five and Eleven o’Clock in the forenoon, and one and nine o’Clock in the afternoon, until the Town shall Order otherwise.—
BRC, 17th Volume, [Doc. 90], p. 215.
March 29, 1748/49. . . .
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], p. 164.
May 12, 1749. . . .
Voted, that the Sum of one hundred and fifty Pounds old tenor Bilis be paid out of the Town Treasury unto Mr. Abijah Adams in full for his Service as Clerk of Faneuil Hall Market, and for cleansing & sweeping the same Ringing of the Bell & Ca. for the Year past.
BRC, 17th Volume, [Doc. 90], p. 238.
March 7, 1749/50. . . .
The Petition of mr. Samuel Gibson for an addition to his Salary, the Petition of several Inhabitants that the Sum of Fifty Pounds new tenor bills may be allowed to Christ’s Church, for cleaning, fitting and fixing the Clock there, and that the same for the future be maintained by the Town, and the great Bell there be Rung at one o’Clock.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 168–173.
March 12, 1749/50. . . .
The Petition of sundry Inhabitants praying that the Sum of Fifty Pounds new tenor bills may be allowed to Christ’s Church for cleaning fitting and fixing the Clock there, that the same for the future be maintained by the Town, and that the great Bell there be rung at one o’Clock, now came under Consideration, and after some Debate thereon, the question was put, whether the prayer of the Petition be granted, It pass’d in the Negative, and that said Petition be dismiss’d.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 194–198.
May 14, 1751. . . .
2dly. There are one or two Lesser Articles in the Selectmens Accompts in which the Committee apprehend there be some Saving, as in Reducing the Number of Bells daily rung, and at different hours of the day, the Committee being of Opinion that two Bells rung in different parts of the Town viz at 5 in the morning, one at noon, & nine in the Evening, together with the Bell at the Opening of the Market would be sufficient.
Then the Second Paragraph in said Report, was Debated, and Voted that the same be accepted, and that no Bells be rung for the future but the Bell at the old North Church, the Bell at Dr. [Joseph] Sewall’s Church Vizt, at the hours of five, one and nine o’Clock, and the old Brick Church at the hour of Eleven.
BRC, 17th Volume, p. 276.
March 2, 1752. . . .
The Petition of sundry Inhabitants that the Bell at the Revd. Messrs. Welsteed and Gray’s Meeting house may be rung at eleven o’Clock in the forenoon.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 204–208.
March 9, 1752. . . .
The Petition of Sundry Inhabitants praying that the Bell at the Revd. Messrs. Weelsted & Gray’s Meeting house at the North end of the Town may be rung at Eleven o’Clock in the forenoon, as has been heretofore practised, was Considered of, and thereupon Voted that the same be accordingly Rung at the hour until the Town Order otherwise.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 224–230.
August 28, 1752. . . .
Voted, that the Petition of the inhabitants at the Southerly end of the Town, praying that a Water Engine may be provided and assigned for them, and that the Bell at Mr. Byles’s Meeting house may be rung as heretofore, be taken into Consideration as soon as the affair of opening the Market is determin’d. . . .
The Petition of Sundry Inhabitants at the Southerly part of the Town praying that a Water Engine may be provided and Assign’d for them, and that the Bell at the Revd. Mr. Byles’s Meeting house may be Rung at such hours as shall be judg’d necessary, was Read & taken into Consideration. . . .
Also Voted That the Bell at the Revd. Mr. Byles’s Meeting house be for the future Rung at such hours, as the Selectmen shall direct and think necessary.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 266–272.
January 17, 1755. . . .
The Petition of several Bellringers of the Town praying that an Addition be made to their Allowance for ringing the Bells, Read and thereupon Voted that the Sum of forty shillings p Annum be allowed them in the whole for each time said Bells shall be rung.
BG, May 5, 1755
BOSTON. . . . By the publick Papers bro’t by the Western Mail, we learn that his Excellency our Governor, accompanied with the Lieutenant Governor of Philadelphia, had returned there from the General Congress at Alexandria : That at their entring the City, they were complimented with a Peal of the new Sett of Eight Bells, in Christ-Church Steeple[, Philadelphia]; and a Round of 21 Brass Guns : That our Governor was to set out from thence the 24th ult. in his Journey hither; and that he was expected at New York on Monday last; so that it is not improbable he will be in Town this Week.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 282–288.
March 8, 1756. . . .
The Petition of sundry Inhabitants setting forth that inasmuch as ’tis thought necessary and of advantage to the Town in general, and to the Southerly part thereof in particular, that the Bell belonging to the Meeting House of the Revd. Mr. Byles be rung at five o’Clock in the Morning; they the Subscribers therefore prayed that the same might be Accordingly Rung, and that the Expense thereof be paid by the Inhabitants, as has been accostomed for the ringing of the other Bells in the Town, which being Read Voted that the same be Dismiss’d.
Voted that the Selectmen be, and they hereby are Impowred to direct and order what Bells in the Town shall be rung and at what hours.
BRC, 14th Volume, [Doc. 170], pp. 304–317.
May 10, 1757.
Concerning the Market and Buying and Selling Provision in the Town of Boston
It is Voted and Ordered that Faneuil-Hall Market being open shall be under the following Regulation.
- 1st. That a Clerk thereof be constantly chosen Annually by the Town in March; whose Business and Duty shall be to see that the several Rules and Orders of the Town be observed and kept.
- 2ly. That he shall suffer no unwholsome or putrid Meat, or otherwise unfit for Sale, to be Sold there; and if any such be Offered to Sale, in the said Market, he shall be obliged to prefer a Prosecution against the Offender.
- 3ly. That the said Clerk shall not buy any Provision in said Market other than for his own Family use; and on the Conviction of the Breach of this Order, the Selectmen shall displace him, and appoint another in his Room, which Person so appointed shall continue in his said Office untill the next Town Meeting.
- 4thly. That every day in the year except Lord’s-days and days set apart by the Government for Religious Service, shall be a Market day, the Market shall be opened by the Ringing of the Bell which shall be at Sunrise, and from the Ringing of the Bell, untill one o’Clock in the Afternoon, and every Saturday Afternoon, and every other Afternoon preceeding any day set apart by the Government for Religious Service as aforesaid untill Sun-set, shall be esteemed Market Hours.
BG, August 20, 1759
Boston. . . . On receiving the Confirmation of the agreeable News of the Reduction of the important Fortresses of Ticonderoga, Crown-Point, and Niagara, by his Majesty’s Forces under the Command of his Excellency General AMHERST, on the 12th Inst, a Royal Salute was fired from the Cannon at Castle William : And the Monday following there was public Rejoicings on the same happy Occasion : The Bells continued Ringing in Town the greatest Part of the Day, a Royal Salute was again fired at Noon from the Guns at Castle William, as also at the same Time the Guns at the several Batteries in this Town and Charlestown were fired, likewise those on the Wharfs & on board Vessels, having their Colours displayed : In the Evening there were Illuminations, several large Bonfires and a great Number of Fire Works played, with other public Rejoicings.
BG, October 15, 1759.
On receiving the above important Advice [re: the reduction of Quebec] last Friday Morning, all the Bells in Town began ringing, and continu’d the greater Part of the Day, and at Noon the Guns of His Majesty’s Castle-William, the Batteries of this Town and that at Charlestown were discharge; and in the Evening the Province House and Court-House was beautifully Illuminated.
The same Joy was expressed at Gloucester by Firing of Guns and a general Illumination.
BG, October 22, 1759
BOSTON. . . . Last Tuesday being appointed to be observed as a Day of general Rejoicing in this Town, an Account of the great and important Success of His Majesty’s Arms, in the Reduction and Surrender of QUEBECK the Capital City of CANADA, the Morning was ushered in by the ringing of the Bells of the Town, which continued the whole Day : and on this happy Event, an excellent sermon was preached before his Excellency the Governor, the Honourable His Majesty’s Council, and House of Representatives, and a vast Auditory, by the Rev. Mr. Cooper, Chaplain to His Excellency and both Houses of Assembly; After Divine Service, His Excellency with the General Court dined at Faneuil-Hall; after which the troop of Guards, with the Regiment of Militia and Company of Cadets, being under Arms in King Street, the rejoicing Fires were performed by them: Ninety Pieces of Cannon were fired at Noon at Castle William on this occasion, and the Guns of the Batteries in this Town and Charlestown, with a Number of Cannon that were fired in other parts of the Town, and on board several Vessels in the Harbour, which had their Colours displayed, were successively fired : Towards Evening His Excellency with both Houses were entertained at Concert Hall, by the Invitation of the Gentlemen concerned in the Management [The Debloises], with a Concert of Musick : This being over, His Excellency with the Court proceeded to the Council Chamber, where a great Number of Civil and Military Officers, and other Persons of Distinction, by his Excellency’s Invitation, met in the Evening when his Majesty’s Health, and many other loyal Healths were drank.—The Province House, Court House, and the Houses in all Parts of the Town were beautifully illuminated; and several Windows presented on View some ingenious Representations : A Number of large Bonfires formed in a pyramedical Manner, were on several Eminences in the Town; and an Abundance of extraordinary Fire-Works were played off in almost every Street; more expecially the greatest quantity of Sky-Rockets ever seen on any Occasion.—[illegible], as the Consequence of such a Victory, with which Heaven has bless’d his Majesty’s Arms, must be so happy to us, in an especial Manner, so the Rejoicings were the greatest ever known, an universal joy appearing in Persons of all Ranks, tho’ not without some Allay of Sorrow at the Loss of the brave General [Wolfe] by whose Measure under God, Quebec was obliged to submit to the British Government.
BG, October 22, 1759
We hear from Newbury, a Town which has been always distinguished for their Loyalty to their King, and Zeal for the true interest of their Country, expressed their Joy for the late glorious News of the Reduction of QUEBEC, by the brave General WOLFE, which they received by the Post on Friday Evening, when the Bells immediately began to ring; and the next Day, the Cannon from the Wharfes and Vessels were fired there several Times. Monday Morn was usher’d in by a Discharge of Cannon; the Gentlemen of the Town having appointed to dine in Publick, there was an elegant Dinner provided, and an Ox roasted for the Populace. A royal Salute was fired at Twelve o’Clock, and on drinking the King’s Health after Dinner. The whole was conducted with Decency, and concluded in the Evening with Illuminations, Bonfires, Fire-Works, &c.
BNL, September 25, 1760
LAST Friday being appointed to be observed as a Day of general rejoicing for the Reduction of CANADA, the Morning was usher’d in with the Ringing of Bells: At Noon his Excellency the Governor accompanied with the Lieut. Governor, the Gentlemen of the Town, preceeded by the Troop of Horse Guards, and guarded by the Company of Cadets, went from the Province-House to the Council-Chamber, when his Excellency received the Compliments of the Gentlemen on this happy Occasion; After which, on a signal given, the Guns at Castle-William were discharged on the Number of 63, which were followed by the Guns of the Batteries and several Ships in the Harbour.—The Troop of Horse Guards, the Regiment of Militia and the Company of Cadets being drawn up before the Council-Chamber performed their rejoicing Fires.—From thence his Excellency with the Gentlemen of the Council, several Members of the House of Representatives, and many of the principal Gentlemen of the Town guarded by the Company of Cadets, went to Faneuil Hall where a public Dinner for 150 Persons was provided. After Dinner his Excellency and the Company went to the Concert Hall, on the Invitation of the Managers [the Debloises], and were entertained with a Concert of Musick. In the Evening his Excellency, &c. went to the Council-Chamber, when upon a signal given, the Guns of the Batteries were fired to the number of 30, and Fireworks were play’d off from a Scaffo d erected in King-street, before the Council-Chamber; in the intervals of which His Majesty’s Health and many other loyal Health’s were drank : The Gallery of the Council-Chamber was adorned with transparent Paintings; the whole Town was Illuminated; there were two large Bonfires erected with scaffolding 5 Stories high on the two principal Hills of the Town, and another of the same Structure on a Hill in Charlestown; and there was a great Variety of Fireworks, (besides the public) play’d off in different Parts of the Town. In short, there were all possible Expressions of that universal Joy which this happy and glorious Event has diffused through this loyal and grateful People.
BNL, January 1, 1761
This morning all the Bells in this Town began to Toll on Account of the Death of His late Majesty King GEORGE the second; and are to continue tolling most part of the Day.—
BNL, January 8, 1761.
On Thursday last, in consequence of an appointment from his Excellency the Governor, with the advice of Council, publick notice was taken of the death of his late Majesty King GEORGE the Second. At Eight o’clock in the morning, all the bells in town began to toll, and continued tolling till Eleven. . . . In the afternoon, the bells of the town began tolling again, . . . . at which time his Excellency with the Members of his Majesty’s Council, the Honourable House of Representatives, the Officers Civil and Military, and a numerous train of other Gentlemen, in deep mourning, went in procession from the Council Chamber to the old brick Meeting House, the Streets being thronged with Spectators, silent, and with sorrow in their countenances. At the Meeting-House there was a crowded assembly, the Pulpit being hung in mourning, and adorned with the King’s Arms, and a Sermon suitable to the occasion was preached by the Rev. Mr. Cooper from those Words Psalm cxlvi. 3.4. Put not your trust in Princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. At noon, minute guns, to the number of 77, the years of his late Majesty’s age, were discharged at Castle-William; and the guns on the batteries in this Town and Charlestown were fired in a manner proper for funeral solemnities. In the afternoon the bells of the town began tolling again, and at three o’clock, his Excellency, with the Council, House of Representatives, &c. went in procession to King’s Chapel, where the Pulpit was likewise hung in black, and adorned with the King’s Arms, a Sermon suitable to the occasion, was preach’d by the Rev. Mr. Caner from Ecclesi. vii. 24. In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider; God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.——Nor was the mourning confined to an outward shew only, and the pomp of funeral solemnities, but our grief was real, and our sorrow sincere, and unaffected. Loyalty to the best of Kings, from whom we have experienced the greatest blessings, filled us with the deepest concern for so great a loss. Our attachment to civil and religious liberty, of which we always regard the House of Hanover as the firmest bulwork, makes us esteem this great breech in it at this time, as a loss to be regarded by every Protestant. As Englishmen, we mix our tears with the mourning nation, while the kind and generous sentiments which his late Majesty has always expressed by his care for these North American parts of his dominion, called forth our warmest gratitude. In a word, our grief was great & universal, from duty, gratitude, and every virtuous tye.
The Lords Day following the Pulpits of several of the Churches and Congregations in this Town were hung in Mourning, and the respective Pastors adapted their Discourses to the present Occasion.
BNL, February 5, 1761
An Act for repealing the several Laws now in Force which relate to the Observation of the Lord’s-Day; and for making more effectual Provision for the due Observation thereof . . . no Sexton, Gravedigger, Porter or Bearer shall be assisting at the Funeral of any Person on the Lord’s Day or any Part thereof, and no Person shall toll any Bell for such Funeral, unless Licence be given by a Justice of Peace, and when in any Town or District where no Justice of the Peace dwells, such Licence be granted by one or more of the Select men of the Town or District, on Penalty of Twenty Shillings, to be paid by each and every Person so offending; and no Justice or Select-Men shall grant any Licence, except in Cases of Necessity only; and being in the Town of Boston with this express Proviso, that such Person so buried, be not carried to the Grave until one Hour after Sunset.
BNL, February 26, 1761
To be Sold by Daniel Sigourney At the North-End, A BELL of between 3 & 400 lb. Weight, suitable for a Country Meeting-House; as also a Quantity of old Rigging.
BRC, 16th Volume, p. 71.
March 8, 1762. . . .
Voted that the Bells at the Old North, Old Brick and Mr. Byles’s Meeting Houses [ ] be rang at 5o. Clock in the Morning.
BG, March 15, 1762
The Town voted that the following Bells should be rung at Five o’Clock every Morning, excepting Lord’s Day Morning, viz. At the South End, the Rev. Mr. Byles’s:—Middle of the Town, the Old Brick so called:——At the North End, the Old North so called.
BNL, June 17, 1762
TO BE SOLD A BELL of about 260 lb. wt. Very suitable for a Church or Meeting-House in the Country. Enquire of the Printer John Draper
BG, November 1, 1762
TO BE SOLD A Bell, suitable for a Country Meeting-House——and a few Barrels of Caroline PORK cheap for Cash. Inquire of Edes and Gill.
BG, August 12, 1765
ROBERT BARKER Of Hanover, in the County of Plymouth HEREBY informs the Public That he makes BELLS of any Size suitable for Meeting-Houses, at Two-Shillings per Pound.
BG, September 16, 1765
Upon the Change already made in the ministry,38 a general Joy was diffused among the Inhabitants of this Town. The next Morning was ushered in by the Ringing of Bells, and every Demonstration of Loyalty and Joy was shown by the people upon so happy an Occasion.
Cambridge . . . Yesterday Morning our Congratulations on the great and good News began with Ringing the College Meeting House and Church Bells, which continued [until] the Bonfire on the Common in the Evening was over.
BG, April 21, 1766
ADVERTISEMENT/ Extraordinary. Great GEORGE and PATRIOT PITT for ever sing. THIS is to Certify all whom it may Concern in Europe, Asia, Africa or America, that all Rejoicings and Exhibitions of Joy throughout this Continent on Occasion of the Repeal of the Stamp Act, be they general Illuminations, Ringing of Bells, Bonfires, Firing of Guns, or other Fire Works, will be in Duty and Loyalty to our most gracious SOVEREIGN in Respect, Love and Gratitude to his patriotic MINISTRY.
BG, May 19, 1766
Boston. . . . It is impossible to express the Joy the Inhabitants in general were in, on receiving the above great, and glorious News [the repeal of the Stamp Act],—the Bells were immediately set a Ringing, and the Cannon fired under the Liberty Tree, and many other Parts of the Town.
BNL, June 30, 1768
Boston, June 27.
We hear that last Week was brought to Town from Stoughtonham, a Load of Pig-Metal, some of the Produce of Mr. Quincy’s Rock Ore Iron Mine at said Place.—It is said the Metal is of an extraordinary Quality, there having been lately cast from it, at one of the Furnaces—a fine sonorous Bell, designed for the Meeting House of that Parish; etc . . .
BG, March 5, 1770
A BELL Foundery Lately Erected, by AARON HOBART of Abington, (By an Air Furnace) WHERE BELLS are cast of any Size, suitable for Churches, equal to, and cheaper than, can be imported. Inquire of JOSEPH WEBB, of Boston, or the said HOBART.39
BG, March 9, 1772
BOSTON. . . . In the Evening a select Number of the true Friends of Constitutional Liberty, met at Mrs. Clapham’s in King-Street, and exhibited on the Balcony a Lanthorn of transparent Paintings having, in Front, a lively Representation of the bloody Massacre which was inscribed, “The fatal Effect of a Standing Army, posted in a free City.”
On the Right, was the Figure of America sitting in a Mourning Posture, and looking down on the Spectators with the Label, “Behold, my SONS.”
On the left Side, a Monument inscrib’d, “To the Memory of Messirs. Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell, Patrick Carr, and Crispus Attucks, who were barbarously murdered by a Party of the 29th Regiment, on the 5th of March 1770.”
At a Quarter after Nine, the Painting was taken in, and the Bells muffled40 toll’d ’till Ten. . . .
BRC, Volume 5, Book 5, p. 81.
May 20, 1772
Upon a Motion made and seconded in consequence of a Memorial presented to the Selectmen by Mr. John Lovel, & by them laid before the Town, Representing that the Cellar under the School house which had been Leased to Mr. Gunter for a term of Years, now reverts to the Town, & praying that this small Emolument may be suffered to remain with him, for divers reasons more especially, for his interst & care in procuring Subscription for further Conveniences & Ornaments to the School House, than the Contractors were obliged to furnish: The Effects of which appear in the hight of the Walls of the Room two feet above what the Masons were to build them by Contract in the Carvings round the top, the Frontispiece of the Doors, the Cornish round the Pediment & Eves; the Cupola for the Bell with the Fane upon the top, & the large & commodious Stone Steps at the Entrance of the School; the cost of all which amounted to a much larger sum than that of the Cellar—It was Voted That the said Mr. John Lovel have the use of the Cellar under the South Grammar School, for and during his continuance as Schoolmaster, for Reasons given in his said Memorial.
BG, October 19, 1772
A very handsome Steeple is erected at the Presbyterian Meeting-House, whereof the Rev. Mr. Moorhead is Pastor; and a Bell is hung in the Tower; which Bell formerly was at the Meeting-House in Brattle-Street and presented to this Society by the Hon. John Hancock, Esq.
BRC, Report 23, Book 13, p. 171.
April 1, 1773.
. . . Voted, that the New Boston Bell be rung at 11. 1 & 9 OClock.
BG, November 29, 1773
Friends! Brethren! Countrymen! THAT worst of Plagues the detested TEA shipped for this Port by the East-India Company, is now arrived in this Harbour; the Hour of Destruction or manly Opposition to the Machinations of Tyranny stares you in the Face; every Friend of his Country, to himself and Posterity, is now called upon to meet at FANEUIL-HALL, at NINE o’Clock, THIS DAY, (at which Time the Bells will ring) to make a united and successful Resistance to this last, worst and most destructive Measure of Administration.
BG, January 3, 1774
BOSTON. . . . On Tuesday Morning early the Bells in this Town were set to ringing on receiving the above Intelligence. [The tea had been sent back to England].
BG, January 24, 1774
Last Monday evening Elisha Hutchinson one of the consignees41 arrived at the house of Col Watson of Plymouth, his father-in-law. The people obtaining knowledge of it, they tolled the bells in a solemn manner, and there was speedily a great appearance of them before the house, demanding Mr. Hutchinson’s instant departure from the town; but through the interposition of the committee of Correspondence, so much traduced, because so much dreaded by the Tories, he was suffered to tarry until the next morning.
BG, September 26, 1774.
In Capt. Scott is come, a BELL for the Reverend Doctor COOPER’s Meeting-House [Brattle Street], which weighs 2700 said to be the largest on this Continent, and is the generous Present of the Hon. JOHN HANCOCK, Esq. to that Society.
BRC, 25th Report, Book 15, p. 2.
June 5, 1776.
. . . . Voted, that directions be given for the ringing Dr. Sewalls Bell [at Old South Church] One O’Clock & Nine O’Clock, and Dr. Chaunceys Bell [at First Church] at 11.O.Clock.